Difflock: First Dirt in the 1991 Jeep Cherokee – Can It Conquer Gold Mine Hill? [Video]

Turns out you don't need $60,000 to get a good off-roader.

If you want to buy a new off-roading vehicle, prepare to take a wallop in the wallet department. A brand new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon costs upward of $42,000. The most expensive versions, when fully equipped, can run up to $60,000.

Sure, the new Wrangler JL is loaded with more technology, but it’s still a far cry from the days of far more affordable SUVs. So what can you do if you’re looking to tackle some trails on a budget? Fortunately, there are cars out there which you can buy, right now, for less than a tenth of a new Wrangler’s price. Welcome to the second season of Difflock: a series where we show you that you don’t need to break the bank to have some fun off-road.

1991 Jeep Cherokee XJ - Difflock
Jeep has made nearly 3 million Cherokees to date, so finding a good used one shouldn’t prove too difficult. [Photo: TFLcar]

Finding a clean 1991 Jeep Cherokee XJ

In this season, we have another name from one of the most iconic off-road brands in history. It’s a 1991 Jeep Cherokee XJ, forebear to the modern KL Cherokee we know today. It’s an SUV of the old school, with a 190 horsepower 4.0-liter V6 under the hood. That engine comes mated to an Aisin four-speed automatic transmission. Again, it’s a far cry from the 285 horsepower 3.2-liter V6 and nine-speed automatic we know today.

Although, this 1991 Jeep Cherokee Laredo comes with a selectable full-time four-wheel drive system, which should help tackle some rough terrain. Take Gold Mine Hill for instance. We know the modern Jeep Cherokee – particularly the $33,320-and-up Trailhawk, can climb the trail no problem. But what about this 27-year-old SUV? Despite its age, the 1991 Jeep Cherokee XJ is more modern an SUV than you might think. It does have a unibody construction, unlike the old body-on-frame style found in its competitors, like the Ford Explorer.

Even with no differential locks, the 1991 Jeep Cherokee XJ is an off-road capable machine. It does, after all, have the brand’s DNA baked into its design. Not to mention there’s a significant aftermarket presence for the model. At just a tenth the price of a new Jeep, it’s one of the most affordable ways to get a dependable, rugged off-road companion. Will the 1991 Jeep Cherokee handle even greater off-road challenges? Watch upcoming episodes of Difflock to find out!

Check out the video below to watch the unboxing of our latest contender on Difflock: